Thursday, May 22, 2008

My tire has a hernia and other amusing commuting stories

I suppose it is a little early to summarize the week but seeing as I intend to cheat summer once more and ride South Mountain tomorrow it will likely have it's own blog report. It has been an interesting week though and I thought I would make a special entry just for it.
Monday we set a record for heat and it was 109 degrees when I left work to ride home. It did not feel like 109 degrees though, more like mid nineties. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to experience lifes simple pleasures of the desert. Unfortunately my front tire was not on board with the whole "embrace the heat" thing. Somewhere along the route my front tire started making a sound like a guy that's wearing rubber pants walking around. Now for the record, I have never heard or even seen a guy with rubber pants, but if there was one it would sound just like my front tire did. I didn't discover the problem until last nights commute though, but that will be addressed later in the entry.

The heat is on.

Commuting in heat is, well, uh, an experience. There is one thing that makes it better though. I was looking forward to it all the way down Chandler Blvd. "It is hot, but it's a dry heat" as I told the lady in the white Yukon who informed me it was too hot to cycle and that she does it in the morning. Perhaps the giant rack and trunk on the back of my bike appeared to be a bizarre training device to her, or perhaps she just couldn't fathom someone using their bicycle for something useful which might, heaven forebid, include them having to ride in the afternoon. Well, there was a heat advisory so I will cut her some slack. As I said it was a dry heat.

A dry heat gives us a few advantages over our humid brethren also living in hot climates. Yes, a dry heat allows me to become Paul, the human swamp thing! Oops, I mean human swamp cooler. One of the best things on this planet is arriving at a park with a drinking fountain and thoroughly soaking your jersey on a hot day and cycling off as the wind hits your wet jersey and chills you in an almost unnatural intensity in such hot weather. The park I was going to had a refridgerated fountain (most city parks don't have them, even non-refridgerated ones work but you don't get the cooling effect until you start mooving). So I sprayed myself down and a 109 degree day suddenly got chilly. Yes, I actually shivered once. I must admit I wasn't expecting it to work that well. It was a nice ride back to the car from there. Too hot to ride indeed.

A Windswept Paul.

Well, with the heat subsiding, the other effect of a massive cold front was immediately apparent on my commute yestereday morning. I had a 25 mph headwind much of the way in. You know it is windy when the water in the canal you are riding next to is white capping. Usually these kind of days give you hope of a better world, folks at peace with one another, free money falling from the sky, all because there will be a tailwind of equal size that evening. Well, around here usually the wind shifts mid day and that hope gets dashed into a world where people honk and cat call bicyclists and people speed along oblivious of each other in a compassionless race to see who can cut who off and save a few seconds to arrive at the next red light, all caused by a callous headwind when a tailwind should have remained. Well, today was different.

I left work with winds between 20-30 mph from the west with gusts up to 40. The bike just kind of pedalled itself but I had to stop off at performance for my new bike computer/altimeter, some new gloves, a tube for my mountain bike and a seat wedge for it too since I am riding it more and switching back and forth from the roadbike is annoying, so I was in a bit of a hurry. I didn't have a functioning computer installed on the bike so I had to estimate my speeds by the lap timer on my watch and the traffic lights on the 1 miles blocks. I figure I kept 25-27 mph most of the way back to the car. It's a pity I didn't have anything recording my average speed for the ride I am sure it was a record. Anyway, about the bike tire with a hernia.

Remember that rubber pants sound I was talking about? Well I found out what it was. At one of the stop lights I examined the front tire and noticed some funny bumps on it. Figuring I couldn't stop there I determined to check it out back at the car. The bumps were rubber seperating from the next layer of tire in. The tire was an Armadillo that I had had on this bike for over a year and over 6000 miles easy. I had almost worn the top layer of rubber out and it was cracking in spots so an evening session with the steed was in order. My back wheel had been slowly showing signs of imminent retirement as well and it was pretty flat across the tread with cracking rubber as well as the threads were almost showing through.

A few months back I purchased a couple of tires for $8 each at performance that were kevlar belted figuring I would give them a try. I wasn't too crazy about the raised tread in the middle (usually a marketing gimmick for those who don't know a no-tread pattern is actually the most efficient). Anyway, I got 25c as I like the comfort more than the 23c and I don't notice much speed difference. These tires were a lot smaller than either the Armadillo or the Gtorskin that I pulled off which is funny because usually the companies mark a bigger tire lower instead of the other way to appeal to the skinny tired, fashion fetished roadie crowd, who live by the law of Fernando- "It is better to looook gooood than to feeel Goood.". I also installed my new bike computer as well.

This morning I was off to fight the headwinds again and time will only tell if world peace occurs or the headwind switches directions. But now I have new tires and a new toy on the handlebars so all is well. New tires are kind of like new shoes, life is just a little cooler for a bit with them. I don't know if I will be winning any races on them but they seem to work and they were dirt cheap so we are good. Is that thunder outside?

1 comment:

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Cher Pablo,

I stayed home--too hot and too windy. When I think of whom I know tough/crazy enough to play ride in the Dragon's Breath--let's see? Who comes to mind? Pablo Strongo aka Paul Layton.

Ride On! Cheers! Bruce